Cooperation – a key in combating cross-border crime
Head of the EU Delegation in Belgrade Vincent Degert said that the measures Serbia has taken in order to prevent false asylum seekers have been effective, but it must be verified whether there were organised groups which abuse the visa liberalisation, and the investigation should take this course.
Speaking at the presentation of Serbian Integrated Border Management Strategy Degert pointed out that certain groups wished to abuse visa liberalisation and therefore it was necessary to have cooperation between Serbian and EU authorities and strengthen control at the borders.
"Serbia is in a strategic but difficult position since it is at the crossroads of illegal trafficking of drugs and human beings; we are also seeing an increased number of third country nationals arriving to Serbia with the hidden goal of continuing on to the EU. Serbia has in the past period shown significant successes in seizure of tons of drugs and several human trafficking routes and groups were disrupted, but effort on this front has to continue. Cooperation through the exchange of intelligence and data with FRONTEX and EUROPOL is crucial to have success in this battle," Degert said.
Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia pointed out that the EU wanted to help Serbia regarding the safety of borders and that the next step was to develop a global strategy, which would take stock of all border crossings in the country in order to decide which ones need to be expanded and restored, and which ones should be closed.
Serbian Minister of Interior Ivica Dačić said that the police has, within the scope of its responsibility, undertaken different types of measures in order to prevent false asylum seekers, practically all of whom were Roma or Albanians, but that it also made sure that human rights and freedoms were not violated.
"As a state and as a society we must invest all possible efforts to prevent the annulment of our achievements in this regard,” Dačić stated, and pointed out that Serbian Government has established a commission which will monitor all the issues related to the implementation of visa liberalisation.
Ambassador Degert said that the Integrated Border Management programme has ended and that the European Union supported this project with an amount of 1.5 million euro since its launch in September 2009.
"With the support and transfer of experience from our colleagues from Austria and Hungary we want to help develop clear procedures and responsibilities in border management, that are to be integrated into the overall guidelines used by Serbian border services,” Ambassador Degert said, and added that the approach would ensure a fast movement of goods and persons across borders.